Hospice care has been around since the 11th century, but its modern conception didn’t take shape until 1967. It was during the interim that the concept of hospice evolved and expanded dramatically, often facing resistance and skepticism in the process.
In its early days, hospice typically referred to a place of hospitality for the ill, wounded, and dying, as well as travelers and pilgrims. Dame Cicely Saunders, below, is credited with developing the modern principles of hospice care throughout the 1950s.
Born in 1918, Saunders was a British nurse who experienced chronic health problems herself. This, combined with a special bond she developed with a dying Polish refugee, inspired her to become a hospice activist and eventually the mother of modern hospice care. The man, 40-year-old David Tasma, left her £500 in his will to follow her passion. Saunders’ philosophy was based on managing the “total pain” of the patient, meaning psychological, spiritual, and physical needs. She also introduced the idea of taking into account the needs of the patient’s family.
Saunders refined her philosophy throughout the 1950s while volunteering at a hospice facility and attending medical school. In 1967, she established St. Christopher’s Hospice in south London, the first model of modern hospice care.
Saunders, as well as leaders who came before and after her, faced resistance from a number of directions. Cultural taboos surrounding the open discussion of death and terminal illness were strong; fellow doctors felt uncomfortable implementing new, unfamiliar medical techniques; and many patients and their families found it hard to accept the transition from seeking cures to seeking comfort.
Nonetheless, Saunders’ approach saw great success. It was adopted in care facilities all over the world, from the U.S. to Zimbabwe to Switzerland. She paved the way for the 1982 creation of the Medicare Hospice Benefit, which was solidified in 1993 when President Bill Clinton declared hospice a guaranteed and essential component of health care.
Biblical traditions align with many of Saunders’ principles. In John’s Gospel, Jesus illustrates the connection between the spiritual and the physical. In his day, sickness was regarded as a manifestation of spiritual ailment. Jesus believed that by resolving one’s sins and leading a virtuous life, sickness could be healed. Today, with massive advancements in medicine and technology, it’s widely understood that sin doesn’t “cause” illness; but the principle of mind-body connection that Jesus spoke of has proven to be very real. That’s why at HealthKeeperz, we focus our hospice services on managing every aspect of a patient’s physical and spiritual needs.
In addition, the timeless story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) has long served as an example for Christians to follow in caring for the poor, sick, and suffering.
“Now which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” The answer came, "He who treated him with compassion."
Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."
HealthKeeperz’ hospice care practices are rooted in both the wisdom of Cicely Saunders and the teachings of Christ. We invite you to read more about what kind of care we provide here. And if you’re currently seeking relief for a terminally ill loved one, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 800-309-3784. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but in the long run it will bring enormous comfort to you and your family.
For nearly two years now, HealthKeeperz has publicly proclaimed that we exist for God’s glory in the care of all people. In fact, It’s our mission.
We have made banners that can be seen by all at the main entrance of our offices, and we’ve redesigned our marketing brochures so that our mission is at the forefront. And most, if not all, staff meetings are intentionally shaped by our mission, vision, and values statements. As a result, I think it is safe to say that the vast majority of employees at HealthKeeperz know what we are about.
After all this time and so many conversations about our mission and how it translates to everyday life, we can easily, while enjoying the successes of caring for people, forget how these successes happen and how they are sustained. The mission of HealthKeeperz is not original to us. It’s been God’s mission all along for us, and He has made it happen for many years! It’s just that, as of 2017, we have intentionally sought to get in step with what He has been doing all along and what He plans to do in the future.
So where do we go from here? We maintain the course by abiding or continuing in God’s love. What does that mean for us?
In the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus instructs His disciples in how they are to maintain the course He has set for them and those who will become His disciples through their teaching. To illustrate this concept, Jesus uses familiar imagery, that of a farmer preparing his grapevine for fruitfulness. Allow me to summarize the instruction of our Lord.
In the same way that a farmer prunes his grapevine to encourage new growth and increased fruitfulness, so, too, does God prune or bring about changes in our lives so that we are fruitful in accordance with His plan for us. Changes that promote increase are not always pleasant but are still necessary and beneficial. For Jesus’s disciples, the Father’s pruning was crucial.
In the text, there is present another necessity. “The branches must remain connected to the vine.” The disciples are the branches, and if they are going to continue Christ’s work of transforming the world around them, then they will need to continue being nurtured by Him, since He is the vine. They will need the spiritual life-blood of Jesus flowing in them and working through them if they are to yield the desired fruit of God and yield that fruit in abundance.
Yes, the farmer doesn’t just want grapes; he wants an abundance of grapes! God not only desires good for you and me, He also wants good for everyone, and He intends to use you and me to do it. That’s amazing! Frail, fickle people like us, thanks to our Lord, have a role to play in the grandest story ever written. That should get us out of bed in the morning!
As our moment together closes, allow me to encourage you to continue in God’s love through an abiding relationship with Jesus. And as you experience the life of Christ working in you, others will experience the love of Christ through you.
Soli Deo Gloria (For the glory of God alone),
At HealthKeeperz, we employ highly skilled healthcare professionals to manage every aspect of medical care, from skilled nursing to hospice. But one aspect of care that isn’t talked about nearly as much – despite being equally important – is spiritual and emotional care. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at how HealthKeeperz benefits mind, body, and soul.
Our organizational mission is “caring for all for the glory of God,” and it guides all of our healthcare providers as they interact with patients. HealthKeeperz is a family business and we treat our patients like family. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a team of care providers that is so compassionate, caring, selfless, and humble.
Research shows that the effects of having this warm, friendly presence in the home are extremely beneficial. Studies have found that:
After reading these statistics, you can understand the power of the mind-body connection, and the tangible benefits of having an in-home companion. This is of particular importance with older folks. For one thing, losing friends and family is a sad but natural part of getting older – people move away, pass away, and start families of their own. Secondly, many people reflect more often on life and death at this age. Some seniors handle it beautifully, while others may experience feelings of fear, apprehension, and uncertainty. HealthKeeperz’ care providers respect the challenges unique to this stage of life and are well-equipped to provide companionship through it all.
A helping hand to reach the remote for you, a conversation about the grandkids, a hug at the end of the day. All of these actions are small yet impactful. For many of our patients, they make just as much of a difference as a physical therapy session or post-op care. They help transform the arduous process of receiving healthcare into an exercise in friendship.
Barnabas, a disciple of Jesus Christ, serves as a role model for HealthKeeperz’ style of care. In Hebrew, the meaning of the name Barnabas is “son of consolation” or “son of comfort.” That’s exactly what we strive to do – provide comfort, consolation, and companionship to our patients. We are humbled to serve each and every one of them, and we hope that you’ll consider us for care of your loved one in the future. Please contact HealthKeeperz at 800-309-3784 to start the conversation.